We don’t make rules in our family, so how do my children know what is right and what is wrong, if
they aren’t guided by clearly stated limits? Do I believe my own quiet example of appropriate behaviour is all that is needed in order to influence my children? Perhaps I stand back, hands-off, and let my children behave as they choose?
I decide to ponder a few ideas with my children, in an
attempt to find the answers to these questions.
self-centred. And we wouldn’t know what constitutes appropriate behaviour when
it comes to relating to people.”
what is not, or is there another way?”
and children end up fighting over them, in a power struggle. I like how you do things better.”
not equals*. You’re the parent and we’re your children, but it feels like we’re
talking on the same level. You don’t
lord it over us, talking down to us. You don’t make us feel small.”
acting appropriately or upset over something, I do try to spend some quiet time with her/him. I try not
to make accusations but rather endeavour to show empathy:
they’re feeling. They can talk about the issues they’re having difficulties with. We
ponder the situation together and sometimes chatting is enough. If it’s not we usually come up with some suggestions
together, for dealing with the problem. Often I share my own experiences too. I’m
certainly not perfect so I can talk about my own struggles.
to the early hours of the morning and I’m worried about you doing this?”
improbable scenario. “Just pretend,” I say, before adding, “Should I intervene or just let you do what you like?”
that and I’d listen,” Imogen says.
always trust and respect me.”
conversation. Now she says, “You always listen to me. You always want to hear
my side of the story so I would listen to you too.”
in danger of being hurt, I wouldn’t wait for a quiet moment in order to
sort things out. That would be silly. I’d separate my children immediately and
deal with the problem there and then, listening to both parties.
wouldn’t make sense to say, “When you’re finished, would you mind meeting me
for a little chat?”
kids to act properly: a few words of empathy, a reminder, even eye-to-eye
unschooling philosophy? I don’t really know. Does it even matter if we’re all happy and my children are growing into well adjusted people? It’s not as if I’m attempting to get a degree in advanced unschooling. I’m bringing up children… my children.
I do however find other people’s
opinions interesting, so I’ll share something I read recently. On Sandra Dodd‘s website, I found a list
of things to do if you want to ‘screw up unschooling’. Here’s a few points:
- Don’t collaborate.
- “Unparent”—give kids “free reign”
without talking to them re: appropriateness of their actions (affecting others
and others’ property).
- Don’t help your kid understand the ways of the world and
boundaries and what’s right and what’s wrong.
- When they have a disagreement, let them work things out
themselves with no input from you.
- Do not prepare them ahead of time for anything new they may
encounter. Let them deal with it on their own.
- Have the idea that unschooling is just allowing your kids to
walk all over others because they feel like it and well you don’t want to run
- Set lots of rules, boundaries, and limitations.
“I’m writing about rules,” I say.
“Rules don’t work. Children need boundaries.”
“But how can you have boundaries without rules?”
“I don’t mean boundaries enforced by external rules. I mean self-imposed boundaries,” explains Callum. “The incentive not to step over the line and do what is wrong must come from within a child.”
“And what makes a child want to stay within those limits?”
Then Callum mentioned trust and respect and love and example… all very powerful motivators for influencing a child to do what is right.
Can a parent bring up well adjusted children who know right from wrong without rules? I believe they can.
* I do believe we are equal in dignity and worth, but we are unequal in experience.